First defense and fight for $1 million.
On the night of March 11 , the Bellator 292 tournament was held in the USA. Usman Nurmagomedov and Benson Henderson fought in the main battle . Khabib’s cousin made the first defense of the championship title and scored a bright finish in the first round.
Nurmagomedov is the youngest Bellator champion. He came to the $ 1 million Grand Prix and faced the former UFC champion
24-year-old Usman in Bellator is considered a phenomenon and the main talent of the Nurmagomedov clan. In 2022, he topped the ranking of the best fighters in the world under 25 according to ESPN. Usman made his first title defense in the quarter-finals of the $1 million Lightweight Grand Prix. He joined Bellator in 2021, but quickly took off: he won five times in a row, and in November 2022 he became the champion, defeating Patricky Freire, the younger brother of the strongest fighter, by decision. Bellator Patricio Freire.
Henderson is 14 years older than his opponent – he began his career when he was eight. In 2012, he became the UFC champion and defended the title three times – defeating Nate Diaz, Frankie Edgar and Gilbert Melendez. Now Henderson is 38 years old (a critical age for a lightweight) – this is his 42nd career fight.
In the last two he won, although before that he was on a series of three defeats. Henderson narrowly defeated team member Usman Islam Mammadov by split decision and Irishman Peter Quilley by unanimous decision. In the fight with Nurmagomedov, he was considered a huge underdog, but without underestimation :
“It can play a cruel joke not only in fights, but also in life, so I don’t approach this fight with an underestimation of the opponent. I know he’s just as dangerous as ever. Although he lost some fights, you can’t write off such an experienced veteran.”
Usman went to the belt, jumping over many tops of the division, for which he was criticized. Henderson is the most titled opponent in his career: “Benson is a big figure in MMA, he is a legend of this sport. It will be nice to beat such a titled fighter. It’s good for my career to have such a person on my resume.”
Usman spent his first championship defense without Khabib. But the corner was still impressive: Islam Makhachev, Islam Mamedov, Umar Nurmagomedov and coach Javier Mendez. Khabib supported his cousin on social networks: “The hard preparation is over, the weight is done, now it remains to go out and do your job. Good luck, brother. Protect your belt.”
Nurmagomedov knocked Henderson down with a rare blow – a question mark. Strangled on the ground and forced to end his career
From the beginning of the fight, Usman worked as the first number and after 20 seconds sent Henderson down with a question mark kick. This is a difficult strike that is rarely used in combat. Its peculiarity: the leg moves into the body of the opponent, forcing him to defend himself, and then in an arc it hits the face – the trajectory resembles a question mark.
A fan of the punch in the UFC was Luke Rockhold, a former middleweight champion who trained with Khabib at the AKA. By the way, coach Javier Mendez compared Usman with Rockhold: “He is charismatic, he is Dagestani Luke Rockhold. Handsome, charismatic, witty, a good listener.”
The blow was not perfect: Usman shook Henderson, but lost his balance – the supporting leg went. He got up first and finished off Henderson on the ground. He resisted for a long time, and the referee reprimanded Usman for hitting the back of the head. Then Nurmagomedov switched to a choke: he improved his position and forced Henderson to surrender.
So Usman reached the semi-finals of the Grand Prix, where he will meet with the winner of the pair Brent Primus – Mansour Barnawi. Henderson ended his career and put his gloves in the center of the cage: “I have four fights under my contract, I told myself that I would finish if I lost even once. I am finishing”.
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